Adding "Wings" to the Ultra Distance Chamois
I recommend reading the 1st article about the Ultra Distance Chamois Project before reading this one. This project is a long-term one. Expect to see bibshorts with this new chamois in mid to end 2021.
This is the 2nd article about a new ultra-distance chamois that i'm working on. My current bibshorts do an excellent job of supporting riders on their endeavours. However, advances in technology since 2014 has allowed me to make improvements that will make future RedWhite bibshorts even more comfortable.
I've finished testing a version of the ultra-distance chamois with "wings". The chamois has fabric extensions ("wings") around a rider's inner groin. The purpose of this feature is to allow the chamois' seam to be placed further away from a rider's inner groin. This achieves the following :
- Reduced chafing at your inner groin.
- Increased seam durability. The seam is placed further away from your saddle, and will have 1 less surface to rub against.
The images above show a comparison of a "non-wing" and "winged" chamois. In the "winged" chamois, the seam that connects the chamois to the bibshort is moved away from the rider's groin.
The videos below demonstrate how the repositioning of this seam looks :
The seam on the "winged" chamois sits roughly 2.5cm away from the saddle's edge and even further away from the rider's groin during motion.
40 Hours of Ride Testing Later
I've currently put in about 40 hours in both the "winged" chamois and "non-winged" chamois (20 hours each). The "winged" chamois is objectively more comfortable. Having a seam that sits further down my inner thigh saves my inner groin from abrasion. This is important because from experience, the longer your ride, the more raw the soft tissue in your inner-groin becomes.
Not having a seam there certainly helps.
I've confirmed the overall dimension and "winged" feature of this chamois. Currently I am testing different fabric options for the top layer. I am looking for something that is soft and brings a touch of luxury to your ride.
I'm also optimising the foam layup within this chamois. Samples are being made at the moment and I forsee another month of testing before I'll know if this chamois is ready for prime-time. For an overview of the foam layup, I recommend reading the 1st article about this project.
The go-to market strategy at the moment is to roll this out in a new Ultra-Distance Bibshort model which will be a natural upgrade for customers who already own The BIB range.
Will there be a Women's Version?
Yes. In the works at the moment. The foam layup is identical to the men's version.
@JAMES WEST : I don’t think you’re odd shaped. The chamois is optimised to only support your sit bones and not the soft tissue of your bum. This is why it feels “forward” and seems to not cover your rear. You don’t actually need that material. I’m sure you’ve seen riders who have bibs where you can see the chamois sticking up over their rear. This is unnecessary. The proof is in the pudding and as you are experiencing yourself – the pad keeps you comfortable regardless of this. I have considered “size-specific” pads, but this is dangerous territory. People come in all sorts of sizes and if I were to start toying about with different widths in different sizes, I end up creating problems for customers who are heavy, but not necessarily wide in the hips and don’t want a wider pad. “Size-specific” pads are unnecessary and actually adds cost to the product, increasing price unnecessarily.
@ANDREW : Really happy the shorts are comfy-womfy ;). And yes, there’s always room for improvement. The current generation of bibshorts were really well designed, which is why they are still relevant despite being developed in 2014. At that time, I used the latest and greatest in fabric and pad technology. The silicon microdot gripper for example was a first and so was the heat-moulded pad.
I’m pretty excited about this Yuva. In 2020 my single pair of Stealth bibs quickly became my go-to for all longer rides, including a successful 24 hour brevet. I would describe them as “quite comfy womfy” but since as you say there’s always room for improvement will pick up the new style bibs when they arrive.
Yuva – thanks for responding. Maybe I’m an odd shape. The pad is further up at the front than I need it to be, but doesn’t cover the whole saddle at the back. Yet the shorts are amazing otherwise, really comfortable material, great grippers and comfortable straps.
I’m not huge 177 cm and 82 kg, but some companies have bigger pads in larger sizes than in smaller ones, and some have the same pads throughout their range. Have you considered that?
@DAVID ADAMS, @TONY EDWARDS : This is a very common problem for all cyclists. When I started developing this new chamois, I conducted interviews with my customers and the inner groin was the #1 problem everyone talked about. This is actually not something related to the bibshort itself since it’s common to many cyclists (even non-RW customers). It’s caused by the repeated friction in that area from pedalling. As the miles rack up, that area gets progressively more raw as you do pedal more. The “Wings” are designed to not get rid of this raw feeling (this is impossible). It is designed to reduce it by moving seams and also providing a soft surface for your inner groin flesh to rub against. From testing, it works as intended. However, i’d like to manage expectations and not promise a chamois that will leave you feeling 100% fresh after a 6+ hour ride. This is impossible to do. What this new chamois aims to do is reduce that sore feeling relative to the current chamois. It is an iterative approach and an improvement on an already awesome chamois that currently sits in my existing range of bibshorts, which are incredibly popular. Projects like these are tricky because customers always want something better and creating a better product off an already great one is very challenging. I often joke that even the best product on the market always has room for improvement because die-hard fans always want their favourite products to get better (who doesn’t?). This means that there is no such thing as a “best product” and that every product is technically an inferior version of the next iteration (i’m starting to ramble at this point, but you get the idea).
@LONNIE TOIA : Heya! I was thinking about you after seeing that conversation with Len Bok. Been a while since I heard from you. I assumed your 24 hour races were off for the year because your regular bibshort order didn’t come in this year for that. I should have this ready to go by mid 2021. There is a lot of durability testing to be done. In the meantime, you can and should pickup the current bibs that you always do.
My RW bibs have become my indoor shorts sadly because on rides of 2 hrs or more the seam starts to chafe my inner left groin. It’s not just RW’s though, as it’s a problem of varying degrees with most bibs I ride in! I’d be truly grateful if a short could rectify this on going problem for me?
Looks like a good progress in chamois shaping. I seem to get bilateral proximal medial thigh chaffing with my current RW bib – i think the existing foam shape is a little wide for my legs/ skin in the anterior portion so this development will be good for me.
Looking forward to the new version Yuva,
No 24hr races this year means I am itching for racing to resume in 2021 in Australia!
I am sure that this new version will mean a more comfortable 24hrs on my bike!
@DAVID TURNER : That’s right. The wing pulls material away from your groin and creates a fold that gives you relief. I’m really happy you’re enjoying the bibshort I sent you :)
@GEORGE : It’s always a challenge to make a chamois that works for every rider, in every scenario. I understand your point about the other brand’s pad being too bulky where it doesn’t have to be. The current pad in my existing bibshorts is actually really good which is why a lot of customers love it and keep recommending it. That being said, it isn’t perfect (there’s not such thing as a perfect product) and what I aim to do is to take an iterative approach in developing something that gets closer to perfection.
@JAMES HOLLEY : The Wings are thin and you won’t notice them.
@MIKE ROE : I know what you mean. One challenge at the moment is making the seam area much softer and this is actually challenging. The only way to do that is to move it away from your groin using wings. I find my customers riding more and more every year and as a result, have more requirements from the current bibshorts. This is a good thing and keeps me on my toes.
@EUGENE : Most bibshorts actually have this familiar chafing problem. You simply can’t run away from it when you start hitting those insanely long rides. I am focused on this problem and am looking to solve it at a reasonable price point.
@CHRIS LUCKSCHEITER : I’m not considering any new colours at the moment. Black is by far the most popular colour and I actually struggle to keep that in stock. My Navy Bibshort doesn’t sell in the same volume as the black ones.
@JAMES WEST, @WILLIAM BERHOW : This is something I hear from a very small number of customers. The pad is optimised for your sitbones and for the vast majority of customers, it works really well. In the early days of RedWhite, the bibshorts actually used a larger pad. This was not popular as many customers felt there was too much material and I ended re-designing it to the current pad (a best seller today!). This new pad is slightly larger than the current model and should work well for you without being oversized.
@ANDREW : Always improving! The current bibshort actually works remarkably well for most of my customers, but I do have edge cases like you who just want something better. I am taking feedback and making improvements.
@T : With luck, I could have these ready by Q1 of 2022
@GARY FAVERO : Really happy this blog resonates with you. I am trying to get my customers involved more in my product design work. Maintaining a blog about this is one way of achieving that.
I have the exact same issue as James West in that the pad does not cover sit bones when I’m sitting more upright. A definite deal killer.
I like the product development you do and how you explain your process and reasoning. This new chamois design looks good.
I can say that I have a pair of pricey Assos shorts with the “winged” chamois and they are extremely comfortable. It would be great to find a comparable short for a much more reasonable price. Looking forward to checking these out, as I have been happy with my other RW products.
This is wonderful. I emailed you about irritation from this exact issue a little while back and I’m glad to see a fix being included in the ultra distance bibs.
Looking forward to purchasing a pair of these when they drop.
I take part in audax events over long distances, and have two pairs of your bibs. The problem I have is that they don’t extend far enough back. I’m fine on a 300 or possibly even a 400, but anything more than that I’ll rub through the skin on my rear-end. On a long ride I spend more time sitting upright, compared to being hunched forward, and my sit bones seem to be off the thickest part of the pad, almost on the rear seam. As it becomes more uncomfortable I fidget more, then eventually rub through the skin. A slightly longer pad towards the rear would make a huge difference to me.
Great to see that you are looking to improve an already comfortable bib short. I was wondering on another topic if you are considering adding different colors to your bib selection like a grey color?
Thanks and am looking forward to reading what your test rides have come up with.
I am quite excited about this development. For those of us who have been using The Bib shorts, we are familiar with the chafing experience. Keep on testing! 👍🏽
A great idea Yuva. Sometimes I find that the bib short get to be a bit “nippy” in the edges of the Crown Jewels. Painful on a long ride. Certainly better to have some extended chamois and edge running a bit further down the legs to avoid this potential impact zone. I have a pair of other bib shorts which do have a longer edge and unstitched. It is softer on this groin area.
Perfect, as long as it is thin and unobtrusive, this is exactly what I have been waiting for. I don’t mind a sore bum, but absolutely hate it when my groin is raw as there is nothing more painful.
Great idea. I have problems with the exact chafing issue you discussed that begins about 2 hours into the ride. I also ride in a tropical climate (Hawaii) so heat and moisture become real skin problems after a time, and you can only start so early in the AM. I have another brand of endurance bibs that I tend to favor over yours for the three hour plus rides, and it is because of a more generous chamois cut that just happens to extend into the crotch area, but they are also bulkier where they don’t need to be, so there is a trade off. I like your solution.
The wing makes perfect sense. I was thinking about the same area the wing serves on a ride today. If I pulled the leg portion of the leg down towards my knee it would provide some relief in the groin area (ilioinguinal). The wing would pull the material away from the groin. The wing creates a fold so to speak? Brilliant my friend! I’m sold. I’ve had my RW bibs for 2 weeks now, I love them, especially the chamois… the best!